Telephone town hall meeting will discuss national park | News

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Telephone town hall meeting will discuss national park
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MILLINOCKET, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- Those who still have questions about the long debated proposed Katahdin Woods And Waters National Park will have the chance to get answers at a teleconference town hall meeting on Wednesday night.

The national park and recreation area would be located on lands east of Baxter State Park, much of which is owned by Roxanne Quimby, who's been trying to bring another national park to Maine for some time. The plan includes 75,000 acres for the national park and another 75,000 acres for hunting, snowmobiling and other recreational activities. Quimby also wants to put $40 million in a trust for the park's future.

Lucas St. Clair, Roxanne Quimby's son and president of the Elliotsville Plantation, will be addressing concerns about the park over the phone in a teleconference town hall meeting Wednesday night. Saint Clair said many of the concerns can be addressed in the federal legislation to establish the park, including its size, which he said will not expand. He adds that the proposed park land is not being used by the forest product industry and will not interrupt land that is. St. Clair said 400 to 1,000 seasonal and full time jobs will be added once the park is established.

"There will be a whole cross section. There will be jobs in management, and maintenance, and contractors and the owners of restaurants and the owners of retail shops, and guides and outfitters who absolutely could make $50,000 and upwards. They'll be year round jobs," said St. Clair.

According to St. Clair, the amount of jobs has been researched and predicted by Headwaters Economics and peer reviewed by state economists. Those economists approved of the predicted number and even said it was a "conservative" prediction.

"There are plenty of examples across the U.S. where national parks and other types of protected areas have really become these engines of economic growth, and we're seeing as these areas are created and as they grow, new businesses come into the area. It'd be very, very unusually for this not to be an economic success," said Dr. Rob Lilieholm, E.L. Giddings professor of Forest Policy at the University of Maine and one of the reviewers of the Headwaters prediction.

Senator Susan Collins, a long time opponent of the national park proposal, also weighed in on the issue on Tuesday while she attended a Margaret Chase Smith Public Affairs Lecture at the University of Maine. She expressed her reasons why she stands opposed to the creation of a new national park.

"I'm listening to my colleagues from western states where there are a lot of federally owned lands. It seems they have constant disputes with the federal government." she said, adding that she is listening to people on both sides of the issue. "Until there is more of a local consesus on what should be done, I'm hesitant to proceed with any plan to develop a national park."

The teleconference will be Wednesday, April 1, at 7 p.m. Lucas St. Clair will be present and available to give explanations. To ask questions, call in to the hotline at (207) 228-1820.


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